Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Is Waiting a form of Loving?

You're either writing or fucking.

So says one of my best mates when I told her how long its been since I last was able to write a post here. She gives me permission to let it I suppose I will too. Because, to be honest, and a not just a bit crude, I have been doing an awful lot of fucking. And it's been just beautiful!

But now the fucking is not happening. Because my Lover and I are apart again, because it's family holiday time...first his, then mine. So, besides a very brief connection between the two family holidays, there are almost 6 long weeks of being apart that need enduring. And it has tested both of our endurance already...much more strongly than we would have imagined, whilst thinking about it in the middle of our connected physical cocoon.

So to finish off my slightly shocking opening writing device, I need to say that I am suddenly moved to write again. Because there can't be any fucking. Naturally.

We are beginning to see a pattern around our finding time to be together. Our togetherness consists of a couple of nights at a time together if we are able to co- ordinate our business trips away. And then a possible once a week overnighter when my Lover commutes into my city. We make the most of these moments. One of us usually draws the other in, gently, and quickly, as we come down from the adrenaline-fueled deadline-packed lives we both lead. There's a quiet sense of urgency between us - get to the calm and connected beautiful cocoon as soon as possible so as not to waste a moment. A massage. A hot tub. A connected couch conversation. A fierce and urgent fuck. Something that makes the world fade away and become only the deep and connected space between us. And that space, however long it lasts, feels really like another world. We do both escape there. Love. Laugh. Talk. Fuck. Sleep. Hold. Paradise for the two introverts that we are.

But the harder pattern to bear is, of course, the separation. The inevitable ending that is brought on by The Next Thing, whatever that is. And we are suddenly packing, showering, leaving, saying goodbye, with never quite enough time to process the separation before The Next Thing begins and real life resumes. There is an ache in parting, but it can't be seen and felt too much because there is life to make happen and the cocoon is supposed to be the restorer of the life force that enables the rest of it to some extent. It's all right in those times when we know it will be a few sleeps until we are together again. But it gets worse when that can't happen. When we know it will be long and distant weeks before we can find each other again.

And so at those times the process of separation takes days. And it is this separating time that I feel my old pain coming to me. I know that I was so very interested in the process of self-revelation I was having with each man I've met. And this actual real connected and happy relationship is no exception. I can see that it will stretch and challenge and grow me more than any relationship ever has... if I manage to stay the painful part of the distance.

For some reason. Co-incidence? My Lover's issues? Universe intervention to teach me things? Every time we separate in anticipation of a longer time apart, his day seems to consume him. He disappears from me, able to be only briefly be in touch. I find myself reaching for him. Longing. Aching. And he is unable to reciprocate. So the separation always seems to begin for me in a suddenly back-footed way. I need too much of him. He can't reciprocate. I feel the deep loss in disconnection and I begin to grieve. And cling. And feel a rejection (unintended) and the pain that comes with that. I begin to spiral into sorrow. And that sorrow feels so intense and painful, not helped, I'm sure, by the cocktail of drugs I'm currently taking to try to quell my most recent Rheumatoid flare. Chemo. Cortisone. Biologics. All messing with my emotional and physical disposition in a way that I can't quite get a handle on. So. On shifting sands. And lost in an ocean of sadness and despair at times. Not an easy way to miss a Lover.

But of course, things aren't a straight line here anyway, are they? That sorrow. Loss. Sense of rejection and abandonment. They are not simply created by my Lover's distance. This isn't something he's 'Doing To Me'. I know now, after years of therapy, that these are ancient feelings, being churned up in response to this place, but not formed by them. Just even being able to see that has to be a black belt in my own journey of self awareness. I can't blame him for them. And it's really good to know that unequivocally inside myself. But that's grownup me. 5-year-old me has a different perspective. She is always sitting in her familiar place, cheek and ear up against the door outside daddy's studio, not allowed in, waiting for that moment when the door may open and he will emerge, and be mine again. Waiting for love. Waiting for love.

In my case, the metaphorical door is my cell phone. My WhatsApp account. Lover messages come in through a special alert that is reserved for him. I carry that phone around obsessively. And drop almost anything I'm busy with when his message comes in. In true Pavlov's dog style, every time that bell rings I get a little surge of adrenaline-fed frission and excitement. It's him. Talking to me. Brilliant! Sometimes it's a very arbitrary something, and I feel a twinge of disappointment. Sometimes it's him telling me he can't talk right now...disappointment deeper. Sometimes he asks me a question...I answer...but by the time I finishing typing my response, I see he has already left the conversation and it may be hours again before he picks up the phone to read my response. Even deeper disappointment. I find myself living my life between messages, and tuning into him deeply the moment he is available to me. His experience of me is, I think, of almost total availability. Access. I know I cannot even tolerate the idea of letting him down by not being available. Unexplained absences. Distance. Never want him to feel that Pain of Absence. Unavailability. Things that I suffer on a daily basis. I love him by being almost obsessively available to him. Because that's what I crave. How I think love is. Protecting the one you love from the pain of separation.

I thought everybody loves like this. At some naive level I think I see loving as doing everything you can to protect your loved ones from the pain that life can bring, and most especially from the pain that you might bring to them, in this case, by 'neglecting' them by your absence. But, I'm starting to be regularly reminded, not everyone has this particular flavour of pain that I carry around inside me. They don't need to be protected from it because THEY DON'T EVEN FEEL IT. Whaaaat?

Last session I spent with shrink she gave me such an important story to work with. Her first boss had the weirdest habit. He was wealthy. Very very wealthy. But every time there was some sort of office function he would send her to the food table to pile him a plate of food. Pile being the operating word. He would stand at a distance and monitor her piling, secretly encouraging her to put more and more onto the plate. Then she would have to go and hide the plate in his office fridge. And then pile a second one. That was the ritual. And then he would snack on those plates of food, well into the following week...where the food was stale and limp. Even though he had money enough to order in fresh gourmet food daily if he so desired. She found it a nauseating and disgusting habit. Until one day he told her the story about the poverty and real starvation he had grown up with as a child. How he would go for days without food and knew real hunger. She joined the dots. Never knew whether he did.

She says that I have the equivalent poverty of emotional connection and care. Brought up with very few of my emotional and connection needs met in an abusive (mom) and neglectful (dad) world. My inner child well knows that pain of waiting and waiting for love. And there is a very strong part of me that suspects that love can be withdrawn at any time. I'm prone to hoarding it in just the same way that boss needed piled plates. Drop everything. Every time. Be present and available for that connection moment. Feel the transitory emotional rush of joy that happens with each connection. Cherish it. Never. Ever. Miss an opportunity to allow it to happen. Anticipate it. Make space for it. Plan for it. Embrace it. This could be the last scrap ever.

The fear in me is about the sense of loss and abandonment in the terrifying potential withdrawal of love that is so normal for me that I don't even notice myself expecting it. And so all-consuming is it, that I can't believe that every human being around me isn't feeling that same fear. So I project it onto everyone I love. Assume they feel it. Work like crazy to reassure, surround and protect them from feeling it. Because it is my deepest pain. And how would I be able to even say to myself that I love someone if I don't work tirelessly to ensure they never experience it because of something I've done. My need. Your need. Satisfied in very present, deeply bonded connection. And the completely incorrect assumption that we both feel the pain. And both crave the connection.

So to my lover. We have both felt the unravelling of us as the days go by into this long separation time. I'm feeling more and more of that ancient pain coming up while he lives his home life, and work life away from me. I get more and more needy and clingy. More and more wounded by what feels like his lack of presence. He feels more and more blamed and at a loss as to how to reasonably and lovingly respond to what must feel to him like an abyss of need in me. He is struggling with his own drug-induced imbalance and shifting sands as he also wrestles a flare. Both of us despairing at some level - this thing is supposed to be enriching and life-giving, and instead we find ourselves drowning in our own and each other's demons, not really sure about how to keep this place safe. My ever-presence is starting to irk him.

Trudy: "Lover, I'm hearing that you're too busy for me. That my need for time with you is a burden. That my disappointment when we can't have time is unacceptable. That my expectations are unreasonable. That this pain we're experiencing is because I'm doing it all wrong."
Rainman: "Trudy, I'm saying that we're not getting it right. That our need vs expectation/hope ratio is out of alignment with what is practical.
"And that our remote connection is not good and it spirals downward 
"And that I find it a huge challenge constantly being or feeling like I'm on the back foot with respect to your needs. And that I seem unable to change that.
" And it is difficult knowing that you are always looking....Hoping...Waiting...Disappointed" 
My guarding my phone. Obsessively carrying it with me. Cheek leaning up against daddy's door. Answering his every text. Being present whenever he has time for me. Organising my life around being with him when he can make the time. It's too much for him. And he will never love me back that way. It's how I love. But it's not a normal way to love. And I need to find a new way. I need to hold the anxiety in my little child and soothe her. And find a more grownup, functional way to love and be loved.

I tried a new practice last night. I left my phone alone in my room and focused completely on feeding my huge family. Chilled with my boys, let them figure out the finer arts of chicken carving and serving dinner hot to hoards. Had to keep soothing my growing anxiety of my phone alone in my room. Telling myself over and over that my lover would survive the distance. That he wasn't craving connection like I was. That he would comfortably take it in his stride. That this separating time wasn't about love, or the lack thereof at all. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was subjecting him to feelings of abandonment because of my lack of presence. Coaching myself through it all was exhausting. By the time dinner was finally done and the dishes washed, I fell into bed, with a deep turmoil inside me. Didn't know how to even tell him what was in my mind. And then did another 'abandoning' thing. I told him I thought I needed to sleep to recover. Which I did.

We said goodnight. He wasn't able to intuit that I needed loving words from him that would calm and reassure me. Maybe he wasn't capable of them either. I know I wasn't.

So Waiting seems to be how I love. One of the ways I love. I think it's time for me to gently let go of that practice. It comes from a dysfunctional place in me. and if I am to heal then here is a good place to work at that. I end this piece, not with a hopeful sense of 'Eureka'. My heart feels heavy and sad, and my body wants to sleep, even though its only 9.30 am. I hope my lover will want to see this through with me. It feels like it won't be an easy path that I can facilitate lightly and make it feel simple. It feels dark and fraught. And I feel tired when I look at it. Growing healthier sometimes takes a very painful path. I'm walking it now.

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